Bubi Provincial Alternative Mining & Local Economic and Social Development Indaba
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) together with Bubi Small-Scale Miners Association (BSSMA) conducted the Matebeleland North Local Economic and Social Development Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba held in Bulawayo. The Indaba was run under the theme “TRANSFORMING ARTISANAL SMALL-SCALE MINERS TO SUSTAINABLE SMALL TO MEDIUM MINING INDUSTRY WITH A FOCUS OF CREATING EMPLOYMENT”. The Indaba was held primarily to improve avenues for engagement between natural resource dependent communities, local and national government and the private sector stakeholders for improved service delivery. Various stakeholders, among them the Member of Parliament for Bubi Constituency, the BSSMA executive and membership, Bubi RDC, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Fidelity Printers and Refineries (FPR), Agritex officials, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) representatives and small-scale supplying companies attended the Indaba.
Issues that relates to the operations of Artisanal Small-scale Miners and as well as the grassroots participation in budget consultations were central to the interface with stakeholders during the Indaba. The ZMF Matebeleland North chair lady gave a key note speech anchored on aligning our mining activities to the African Mining Vision (AMV) which calls for transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development. Resources are finite, and this calls for a sustainable approach in how the ASM operations are done. One of the ways through which ASM operations can be sustainable is through exploring and maximising the synergies and linkages between mining and other sectors like agriculture. She also spoke of the need by the miners to take mining as a business venture, where they are not only profit driven but rather invest for sustainability.
The Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI) side session on ASM and commemorating Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) @10 declarations were also shared during the proceedings. The declarations were that the Government should come up with an enabling policy and legal environment for community control and optimal benefits from mining through Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining. This is in line with Section 13 (4) on national development which requires the state to put in place mechanism to ensure communities benefit from resources in their localities. Government should ensure optimal linkages between increased ASM gold production and sustainable rural economic growth and broad based socio-economic development. There is urgent need to explore innovative mechanism to deal with wanton violence taking place in ASM. For instance, use of civil suits to compensate for medical expenses, pain and loss of income and counseling services for the victims.
The Fidelity Printers and Refineries (FPR) presentation on financial support to ASM: special facility to Women focused on how miners especially women in mining can tap into the current initiatives by the FPR that are aimed at assisting ASM operations, for example the loan facility. Through the Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDIF), which is administered by the FPR, created by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the emphasis is on enhancing economic productivity through the promotion and development of gold mining industry in Zimbabwe. The loan facility is primarily for the acquisition of gold mining plant and equipment to enhance gold production by miners. The loan facility targets all gold producers.
Discussions on participatory budgeting & service delivery issues were centered on chapter 17 section 298(1) para (a) to (f).
The Constitution of Zimbabwe (2013) Chapter 17 section 298(1) para (a) to (f) talks of principles that guides all aspects of public finance in Zimbabwe. Communities (citizens) participation in budget consultations are only enhanced with greater understanding of the Public Financial Management principles. Section 298(1) para b (i, ii, iii) clearly states that the burden of taxation must be shared fairly, equitably between the central government and provincial and local tiers of government and the expenditure must be directed towards the development of Zimbabwe and special provision must be made for marginalised groups and areas.
As communities, they should be able to interrogate issues of transparency and hold the local authorities to account when it comes to budget expenditures as provided for in Chapter 17 section 298(1) para (d) and (e) that public funds must be expended transparently, prudently, economically and effectively and that financial management must be responsible, and fiscal reporting must be clear…. Only then, their participation in such processes are meaningful and bring about the desired effect of socio-economic development. The RDC official said that its a good opportunity that the communities are going through the process of interrogating transparency and accountability issues through understanding Public Financial Management principles… This will aid in enriching council budget consultative meetings…
On harnessing mining sector for sustainable local & economic development, the participants were put into groups focusing on education, health and infrastructure clusters. The education cluster interrogated the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) which they said its poorly administered and has not been coming/provided for the past 2 years. Statistically, Bubi District have 53 primary schools of which 31 are registered and 22 unregistered, 17 secondary schools of which 9 are registered and 8 satellite schools. There are +/-20 000 learners from these learning institutions, of which 16 000 are primary learners and 4 000 are secondary learners. From these learners, BEAM caters for 455 secondary learners, 199 males and 256 female learners; and 1215 primary learners, 520 males and 695 female learners. The government policy of 1987, revised in 1996 states that government shall built schools 5 km away from each other to ease the distance traveled by the children, but children are still traveling long distances to school.
The health cluster pointed out that there are no adequate facilities and personnel as well as the medicines. There is very limited knowledge/awareness about the HIV/AIDS and spread of STIs around centers of gold production. The limited health facilities that are found in the district are concentrated on the western parts of the district and this result in other community members traveling long distances to access such facilities.
The infrastructure cluster interrogated issues of roads, water, electrification and communication system. Council as a tax collector we are collecting very little from the community. This reduces our capacity as council to deliver good and quality service. This compromises our performance in this area of roads. Equipment is a challenge as well. Most of the money that is meant to maintain roads is spent on hiring equipment. In Bubi some of rural communities have no access to portable water and water for our livestock. We need water for irrigation schemes.
The Member of Parliament of Bubi Constituency gave the closing remarks and vote of thanks. The Hon appreciated and commended the efforts ZELA is doing in making resources in Bubi work and transform the lives of the people of Bubi. He emphasized the need for working together amongst stakeholders for a shared and inclusive socio-economic development.